Monday, June 13, 2016

Brief Travel Guide of Pai, Northern Thailand

It was another impromptu trip again. When my friend told me that she is heading over to Chiang Mai for Songkran Festival, I told her that I love to join her cause Chiang Mai has always been one of my travel wishlist. So right after I came back from South Korea less than two weeks, I flew off again to Northern Thailand. Instead of focusing the well-known cities such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, my friend and I decided to cover Pai, a small but artsy and hippie insipired town situated 3 to 4 hours from the north of Chiang Mai. So basically this post is about the basic and brief travel guide of Pai.

Thailand - Pai 03

How To Get In Pai: 
The one and only way to travel to Pai is fly into Chiang Mai first. For Malaysia case, so far AirAsia is the only carrier that fly directly from Kuala Lumpur with two flights daily; EDT at 6.55 am and 2.45 pm. The flight duration to Chiang Mai takes about 3 hours and 25 minutes and as for the time difference wise, Thailand is 1 hour behind Malaysia. 

We booked the morning flight and once we landed in Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), immediately we took songthaew (photo as below) to Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. Make sure to inform the driver that you are taking bus heading to Pai cause Chiang Mai has two official bus stations and both are located quite distance away from each other. The driver quoted us 100 baht each (approx. to RM10.50) to the arcade bus station and we agreed with that. 

Thailand - Chiang Mai Airport Tuk Tuk 01
#1: Songthaew, a covered pick-up truck serves a bus or even taxi 

Upon arrival at Arcade Bus Station, look around for the Pai counter at the old bus station, which just across the road from the new bus station. Most of the times, we asked around the friendly local and they were indeed being very helpful. To Pai, one can either opt of ordinary public bus or privately-operated mini buses. Of course, we opted for the latter one for more convenient. The earliest bus from Chiang Mai to Pai starts at 6.30 am and the last service would be around 5.30 pm. The mini bus runs every hour and it costs 150 baht (approx. to RM16). The journey takes about 3 and half hours with a 15 minutes quick break at Mae Sae. 

Thailand - Chiang Mai Main Bus Terminal
#2: Pai counter at the old bus station. One way with mini bus costs 150 baht and the journey takes about 3 and half hours ride. 

Thailand - Pai 07

Over the years, Pai is not just popular among the Western travellers but I noticed there are many tourists from China love to visit here too. So it is wise to purchase bus ticket bound to Ching Mai as soon you reach Pai. Even purchase a day in advance like us, it could be sold out like hot cakes. Just when we thought to buy ticket in the morning return to Chiang Mai, it was sold out and the only available time was after 4 pm. 

Where To Stay In Pai
There's a wide selection of accommodations in Pai, ranging from budget to mid range and there are now even luxury hotels. I personally prefer to stay nearby the bus station cause this is where the night market situated. My friend and I didn't book any lodging beforehand and only browsing around once we arrived Pai. We're lucky to stumble upon a small little hotel that cost 500 baht per night for a private air-conditioned room attached with bathroom. Can you imagine after divided into two, it only costs us 250 baht (approx. to RM26) - it's freaking dirt cheap! 

Thailand - Pai LiLu Hotel
#4: LiLu Hotel - Only cost 500 baht per night for a private air-conditioned room attached with bathroom

How To Get Around Pai
An ideal option to explore Pai would be by renting motorbikes as majority of the attractions are placed further away from Pai town centre. These can be rented from most agents along the Pai Walking Street from as low as 100 baht per day. Besides the basic rental, do take into account to include 100 baht for helmet deposit, 40 baht for damage insurance and 40 baht for theft insurance. 

Thailand - Pai Rent A Motorbike

What To Do and See in Pai
Spending 3 days 2 nights in Pai, my friend and I managed to cover majority of the attractions in Pai.

1) Chinese Village (Santichon) - Early settlement by the Yunnanese hill tribes who crossed the border to escape themselves from the Communist rule. Their houses were built from mud and straws and there are few shops opened selling different type of Chinese teas. [7km away from Pai town]
Thailand - Pai Chinese village (Santichon)

2) Mo Paeng Waterfall - Popular among the locals and foreign tourists, this waterfall is slightly easier to access compare to the rest of the waterfalls. This is a three-tiered waterfall which flows through a verdant green valley and on the upper section of the waterfall, there is a small looking-pond of natural water making visitors decided jump into for swimming. I love to do so but unfortunately I didn't bring along any extra clothes with me. [12 km away from Pai town]
Thailand - Pai Mo Paeng Waterfall

3) Oia Village - Apparently it wasn't a village but in reality, it's a luxury resort. Oh boy! How I wish I could afford to stay here? The whole area is resembles alike Greek Island making like I was transported to Greece instead. And because there was like no other visitors while we were there, oh well we had whale of time to do plenty of phototaking here and there around this area. Plus, it's free of entrance and no one was there to stop you at all. [1km away from Pai town]
Thailand - Pai Ola Village

4) Wat Phra That Mae Yen - This small temple is situated not far away from the Pai town. Before one could reach up the temple, one must climb up the long flight of staircases but trust me, it's absolutely worth the climb as it offers another striking view of Amphoe Pai, from houses to the rice fields. This is another best place for sunset viewing. [2km from Pai town] 
Thailand - Pai Chedi Phra That Mae Yen

5) Pai Canyon - I can say this is one of the not-to-be-missed attraction. To be frank, this spot is best to visit for sunset from the viewing platform but guess the luck was on our side too as we got to witness impressive sunrise overlooking the stunning lush green scenery. [8km away from Pai town]
Thailand - Pai Canyon (Kong Lan)

6) WWII Memorial Bridge - It believed that this steel truss bridge was built by the occupying Japanese but unfortunately it was burnt down by the Japanese soldiers when the World War II ended. So the current one was actually transported from Chiang Mai in order to replace the ruined bridge. It then became known as the "Tai-Pai Bridge". [10km away from Pai town]   
Thailand - Pai WWII Memorial Bridge

7) Coffee in Love - This is one of the most prominent cafes in Pai offers beautiful scenery while enjoying a cup of fresh coffee.
Thailand - Pai Coffee In Love

8) Pai Walking Street - Nothing much to offer during the daytime but once the sun gives way for the night, the whole street is clustered with vast range of souvenirs, unique handicrafts, clothes, food and more. I will claim this place to be more alike Pai Night Market instead. The walking street is so alive, colourful and a great introduction to the sights and smells of the local products. I would highly recommend to stay not far away from this walking street so you can spend more of your time here. [Within Pai Town]
Thailand - Pai Night Market

If you are looking for a more laidback and relaxed atmospehere, Pai is most certainly what you are looking for. I can say this is one of my most favourite city to lay back and relax after Luang Prabang of Laos

Thailand - Pai is Falling in Love
I left my heart in Pai

Thailand - Pai 04
Last but not least, don't forget to buy postcards and send your warmest greetings from Pai

To view more of my photos, you can check out on my Flickr album - click here.

Date Visited: 10th - 12th April 2014


  1. You are so adventurous. Just hop and go. Haha. I love that. Backpackers style, light & easy.

    You sure covered quite few places in Pai.

  2. Pai definitely a good place to be visited but the winding roads can kill me >_< I have serious motion sickness ~>_<~

  3. motorbikes - great way to get around, I'm sure it adds to the charm.

  4. wah i never heard of this place. was searching for info on Krabi then stumble upon your blog! long time didnt visit ad! still full of travelling! geng!!! one day you will conquer(visit) the whole world! haha

  5. a good way to travel with a motobike. Sure fun.

  6. Did you really ride on the bike? Reminds me of my gungho son who rode on a bike without any licence in Vietnam. I alsmost died of heart attack considering the country has one of the highest traffic accidents in the world. Would love to visit Pai some day too. Have a great week, dear! xoxo

  7. Too bad I did not know how to ride motorbike, need find someone who know accompany me..hehe..
    Pai attracted me, hope in future can go there :D

  8. This place is interesting! Thank you for sharing so much.


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